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“Drum” therapy is an ancient approach that uses rhythm to promote healing and self-expression. From the shamans of Mongolia to the Minianka healers of West Africa, therapeutic rhythm techniques have been used for thousands of years to create and maintain physical, mental, and spiritual health.”– Michael Drake
Drumming has long been used in communities for rituals, celebrations, and communication. For the veteran community, research has found that drum groups can provide a means for empowerment and teamwork, togetherness, a feeling of belonging, connectivity, and to promote closeness and a sense of openness.
Other research studies published in peer-reviewed journals have demonstrated the health and wellness benefits of group empowerment drumming:
Reverses Stress: A study conducted in 2005 determined that playing a musical instrument can reverse multiple components of the human stress response on the genomic level. There was not just a reduction in stress but also a reversal in 19 genetic switches that turn on the stress response believed responsible in the development of common diseases.
Improves Mood: A 2003 study of one hundred twelve employees in a long-term care facility demonstrated significant mood improvement and a reduction in turnover.
Encourages Creativity: A study conducted in 2003 found that five hundred seniors who participated in drumming reported far more favorable effects when compared with the use of anti-depressants or mood-stabilizing drugs.
Strengthens the Immune System: A 2001 study of one hundred eleven participants showed a statistically significant increase in natural killer cell activity after a one-hour group session. Natural killer cells are the white blood cells that seek out and destroy cancer and virally infected cells. There appears to be reversal of specific neuroendocrine and neuroimmune patterns of changes associated with the classic stress response.
Drumming also synchronizes the lower areas of the brain (non-verbal) with the frontal cortex (language and reasoning). Drumming can induce a natural “high” by increasing Alpha brain waves. When the brain changes from Beta waves (concentration) to Alpha waves, you feel calm and relaxed.
Types of Drum Circles:
Facilitated Drum Circles are a form of group drumming in which a person seeks to focus the intent and improve the quality and effect of the activity, making it easier for people to effectively participate by taking a more directive approach.
Community Drum Circles are a noisy and fun, family friendly event, where people come together in order share their spirit by entraining rhythmically as a percussion ensemble. They empower each other in the act of celebrating community and life through rhythm and music.
Shamanic Drumming Circles centers around Native American Cultural drums and rattles but is primarily focusing on the spiritual rather than the musical aspects of the culture. It is a facilitated circle but the leader is facilitating a shamanic journey process rather than a musical event. Shamanic drumming is generally simple and repetitive, often considered as a form of prayer or method of trance induction, rather than as music or entertainment. During a shamanic trance or shamanic journey, the shaman uses the steady beat of the drum as a “lifeline” to find the way back to the world of ordinary consciousness. Note that in these cultures, the term “Drum Circle” would certainly not be used. Rather, the terms ‘drumming ceremony” or “ceremonial drumming” would be more accurate.
2 Basic rules of Drum Circles:
1. Enjoy the journey. In all the excitement, don’t forget to have fun. You don’t have to be an experienced drummer to fully participate and have a good time.
2. Don’t worry, even if you might think that you are rhythmically challenged. Just get started and you will find rhythms inside of you that you didn’t know you had. By actively participating in the drum circle event, you will find that the excitement and rhythms that surround are all you need to fully contribute to the group song. You don’t even need to play a drum. You can bring a simple percussion instrument like a shaker, a bell or a woodblock. They are a lot easier to play than a hand drum.
3. Support the drum community experience. If you participate in a drum circle event for the first time, watch others for tips & styles.
Watch for my facilitated circles to be offered soon!!!